8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Home Inspection
If you have ever purchased a home, you know that right after the seller accepts your bid you need to schedule a home inspection. Although this step can be extremely nerve-wracking, it’s absolutely essential in making sure that your new home isn’t going to become a money pit of unexpected problems. No house is perfect but you definitely want to know what “imperfections” (and potential expenses) you are walking into before signing on the dotted line.
This is where the home inspection comes in handy. We went through our home inspection last month and I learned a ton along the way so I figured now that this information is fresh in my memory, I’d share my tips with all of you for when it’s time for your next home inspection.
This step of the home buying process will cost you about $300-$400 but is well worth the investment. Some buyers choose to have their inspector come work his or her magic without being on site with them, but we highly recommend you being at the new house because this may be one of the last times you’ll have access to it before moving day. Making the most of this limited time is crucial. Here are my tips so that you can get some information you need to start planning, purchasing and preparing for the move-in day right away!
1. Find a Quality Inspector
We used our realtor for recommendations on home inspectors. If you really trust your realtor (like we did), he or she will probably have some recommendations. Usually, realtors come to their buyers’ inspections, so chances are they have met A LOT of inspectors and have seen which ones are thorough and which ones aren’t.
If you don’t love your realtor, try speaking with friends or neighbors for their recommendations. The bottom line is that you should try to find someone who has good “cred” with someone you trust and respect. There’s too much riding on the line to go with someone who hasn’t proven to be extremely thorough.
2. Allow for At Least 2 Hours (Sometimes More)
If you have a quality home inspector, he will take his time in inspecting your new home. I would suggest budgeting at least 2 hours of your day to be at the new house for this step… maybe even more if he’s extremely thorough or the home is large. I know all of our schedules are busy, especially if you’re moving, but we truly believe this is time well spent to make sure this purchase is a good one.
3. Bring a Tape Measure
Three things I think you NEED to bring with you to the inspection are a notebook/pen, the camera on your phone, and a tape measure. I’ll get to the details of why you need paper and a phone in just a minute, but let’s chat about the tape measure first.
Chances are you are going to want to start shopping for a few new items before move-in day. Since this is the last time you’ll be in the house, you should use this time to gather as much information as you can about sizing so you can begin your shopping ASAP.
During my inspection, I measured the rug sizes of what the current homeowner were using, the TV size and the couch sizes because I thought all three worked well in the current set-up. The measurements of each room are typically included in the listing details, but these extra measurements will be extremely helpful to begin shopping or to determine if your current furniture will fit in the new space. So whatever you do, don’t forget the tape measure!!
4. Take Note of What You Love
Next, let’s chat about the notebook or at least a component of your phone that allows you to take notes electronically. I brought a notebook to write down all of those measurements I just mentioned. I also wrote down any “note to self” ideas or observations. For example, light fixtures I wanted to change, color ideas, or projects plans that were popping into my mind as I walked around the house. I had two hours in the house to plan, measure, and make notes so I was extremely grateful to have somewhere to write them all down. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I referenced these messy notes between that day and move-in day. So helpful!
If you have a great inspector, he will also be giving you tips or sharing observations as he inspects the home. You’ll eventually receive a formal report of issues but some of the maintenance tips or “things to keep on your radar in this house” he may share are probably worth taking note of for future reference.
5. …Or Don’t Love
You also want to take note of what you don’t love in the house (aka what isn’t working). Of course, you’ve seen the MLS photos and have already walked through the house a few times, but chances are you haven’t been in there for over 2 hours to observe even more detail. This is the time that small details may “pop out” that you didn’t previously notice. Light fixtures, door handles, outdated outlets, overgrown landscaping, etc. Use this time to note what you aren’t loving about this space so you can have the material ready to switch it (or at least put it on the radar) right when you move in.
6. Take Photos & Video!
This may sound a bit creepy, but this is one of the things I did during my inspection that I was SO grateful I did. The MLS photos are helpful and probably still available to you (save them to your computer before they’re gone!!) but those angles don’t typically show you the entire room. Use the time in the new house to take photos (and even video) of every angle possible on your phone. That way if you’re out shopping or making DIY decisions, you’ll have a better idea of the space. Plus you can refer back to these photos if you were wondering how the last homeowner made this fit or how they laid out each room.
For example, I ordered new hardware for the exterior doors but wasn’t sure what type of hardware I needed to replace the old stuff. Some of the doors showed up in the MLS photos, but not all of them. I went back to the pics I took on my phone and was able to zoom in on each exterior door and identify exactly what products I needed to order so I had the supplies ready right when we moved in.
I also took video of the house, which was helpful in showing some family and friends (like Casey!) who couldn’t get a good grasp of the layout with the limited amount of photos available. I took a video walking through the house, which helped identify the layout so much more effectively.
7. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to take this time to question your inspector too! He or she is a wealth of home knowledge and would probably be happy to answer your questions or address some of your concerns. If you have some pressing questions, I wouldn’t be afraid to write them all down before the inspection so you are well prepared to pick his/her brain.
8. Get Referrals
Last but certainly not least, your inspector may be an excellent resource for referrals for other jobs that may need to be done in your new home. Because this professional sees all kinds of home repair needs, he probably has an arsenal of friends in the “biz” that may be able to help with some of your home’s needs. Painters, electricians, carpenters, HVACC pros, flooring professionals. If you really trust/respect the inspector, don’t be afraid to use him as a reference for other trusted professionals in the field.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.